The Federal Government, weekend, confirmed that Africa’s major carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, would kick off its inaugural flight from Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to Addis Ababa, the East African nation’s capital on Saturday, August 24, 2013, making it the first international flight to be operated into the South East geo-political zone of the country, barely two years after the airport in Enugu was accorded international status.
Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, made this known in Abuja, saying she had already written President Goodluck Jonathan informing him of the airlines’ inaugural flight which would arrive the Enugu airport by 12.30 p.m. and depart by 1:30 p.m. local time in the four-time weekly operation from Enugu.
The operation of Ethiopian Airlines into Enugu, she said, would be the satisfaction of an enduring call from the people of the zone who had for many years, clamoured for an international airport which they believed would reinforce the resourcefulness of the people, known for their entrepreneurship and trade.
“Henceforth, businessmen and other travellers from Enugu, Aba, Abakaliki, Onitsha, Owerri, Umuahia as well as Asaba and Benin, will be saved the distress of travelling for hours to Lagos and Abuja to catch international flights, trips that are sometimes fraught with problems, including dangers on the road to catch international flights.
“Many of the passengers have lost their goods on transit as they convey them from these cities to their final destinations on their arrival from their overseas trips,” the Minister noted.
With the foray of Ethiopian Airlines into Enugu, businessmen and other travellers from all the states of the South East as well as Edo and Delta now have the option of making their international travels through Enugu, rather than erstwhile reliance on Lagos and Abuja.
General Manager, Corporate Communication, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Yakubu Dati, said President Jonathan’s administration had fulfilled its promise of giving every part of the country equal opportunity to develop and realise its dreams.
According to him, the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, was designed and built by the former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme when he was only 26, while his vision of many years is now being fulfilled.
He said: “This Minister of Aviation has shown her determination to actualise the goals of the aviation master plan which the Jonathan administration has pegged its transformation agenda which objectives include giving every part of the country and every citizen the opportunity to grow to his full potential.
“With the international flight operations at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, a novel opportunity has been given to the people of the South East zone to expand their business horizon without stress and the inconveniences of having to travel far to catch international flights.”